DrivingElectric 2019 Car of the Year is the Kia e-Niro

29th November, 2018, Posted by dovergarage

Image may contain: carDrivingElectric has named its first Car of the Year, the Kia e-Niro, at the first ever DrivingElectric Awards

The inaugural awards have been won by the all-new Kia e-Niro, and it’s not hard to see why. This pure electric, compact family SUV gets a range of 301 miles, and promises to be comfortable and great value when sales start later this year.

In the meantime, read on to find out why the e-Niro is the electric car to beat…

The Kia e-Niro is a compact family SUV with a claimed 301 mile range (on the WLTP cycle) from a 64kWh lithium-ion battery pack, and single electric motor that powers its front wheels. It is, if any of this is ringing any bells, the non-identical twin to the Hyundai Kona Electric that has scattered the established electric car players by offering virtually double the driving range of almost any other circa £30-£35k car.

The Kia e-Niro differs from the Hyundai Kona that it so narrowly beat in our awards, in that it is a fraction larger and more spacious in the rear seats and boot, and is also expected to be offered for roughly the same price as the entry-level Hyundai Kona 64kWh. While equipment is yet to be confirmed, we know that the e-Niro is set to be offered in one of the Kia’s high trim levels, which means that you’re sure to get heated, leather seats and a full suite of advanced driver aids.

Charging the Kia e-Niro happens via a CCS or Type 2 cable that fits into the port in the car’s nose, hidden behind that conspicuously vent-free, solid fascia that’s becoming a tell-tale sign of many electric cars. Standard cables include a Type 2 public charging cable and a three-pin plug for charging via your standard wall socket at home, although – as with any car featuring a large capacity battery like this – charging will be torturously slow in that instance, with a full top-up taking some 29 hours.

A dedicated 7.2kW car charger of the sort that most electric car drivers will have fitted at home, or which are often found in workplace car parks or even town centres, will do the same in around nine hours. Find a 50kW rapid charger that’s normally tucked away in the motorway services and you’ll get an 80% charge in 75 minutes, or the e-Niro is also capable of taking a 100kW charge, which will do the same top-up in under an hour.

One of the great things about the e-Niro, if we’re to put the electric aspect aside for a moment, is that it’s a great compact family SUV. If the early car that we drove is any indication of spec, a heated steering wheel and heated, part-leather seats with electric adjustment for the driver makes it comfortable for the arduous wait outside the football/swimming/ballet club, while keyless entry, a high roof and decent rear door apertures make it easy to lean in and faff about with child seats. The 451-litre boot is also a good size, and there’s convenient cable storage beneath the boot floor.

On top of that, the e-Niro has a logical dash layout that looks smart and, while a bit button heavy in areas, benefits from a solid feel and nice damping. This is another area where the Kia nudges ahead of the Hyundai Kona that is undoubtedly its closest rival but has a more drab-looking interior.

As with all high-spec Kia models, the e-Niro will get a standard eight-inch colour touchscreen that’s as well equipped as the rest of the car and includes DAB, Bluetooth, sat-nav, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Continuing the ‘bells and whistles’ approach, the e-Niro also gets a full array of safety kit including auto lights and wipers, autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist. UK pricing and specification will be confirmed later this year, but it’s safe to say that the electric Niro is set to get all the equipment you could want, which is good since Kia typically doesn’t offer options beyond metallic paint.

You can expect the e-Niro to come in at around £33,000 after the plug-in car grant has been applied, and monthly PCP payments are also expected to come in at well below £400 per month if you’ve got a decent deposit or part-ex worth around £8,000.

Of course, company car tax costs will be lower than an equivalent diesel or petrol alternative – expect to pay less than £200 per month in Benefit-in-Kind tax for a 40% taxpayer for the 2019/20 tax year.

As an overall prospect, the Kia e-Niro is the best electric family car going. It’s comfy to sit in, easy to live with as a family and – crucially – offers the sort of range that should finally put to bed the dreaded range anxiety. Of course, you get Kia’s famous seven-year, 100,000-mile warranty as well, which covers the battery as well as the rest of the car’s non-perishable parts. It’s electric motoring made even easier and even more accessible. It’s the new ‘one to beat’.

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